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Editors' Association of Canada

The Tests

The Editors' Association of Canada (Editors Canada) offers four certification tests, based on the standards delineated in Professional Editorial Standards (2009) (PES-2009).

PES-2009 outlines the range of skills and knowledge editors need. It sets out what editors should do at various stages of editing, and tells employers and clients what to expect from the editors they hire.

Proofreading

  • Standards testedA1 to A12 (The Fundamentals of Editing) and E1 to E18 (Standards for Proofreading) of Professional Editorial Standards (2009)
  • Test format—Invigilated test on hard copy, using standard proofreading markup
  • Time allowed—3 hours
  • Test description—Short-answer questions that require knowledge of the publishing process and of proofreading, and at least one passage that allows you to demonstrate your publishing knowledge and your proofreading skills. You may be asked to carry out such tasks as:
    • Inserting author's alterations
    • Checking that copy editing changes have been made correctly
    • Checking for lapses in stylistic and copy editing, and taking appropriate action
    • Checking the integrity of the laid-out manuscript against the original manuscript
    • Checking for errors in layout
  • Reference books and tools—You will be asked to bring pens, pencils, an eraser, a calculator and rulers, and you will be allowed to bring a Canadian dictionary, Editing Canadian English and up to three more style guides

Copy Editing

  • Standards testedA1 to A12 (The Fundamentals of Editing) and D1 to D18 (Standards for Copy Editing) of Professional Editorial Standards (2009)
  • Test format—Invigilated test on hard copy, using standard editing markup
  • Time allowed—3 hours
  • Test description—Short-answer questions that require knowledge of the publishing process and of copy editing, and at least one passage that allows you to demonstrate your publishing knowledge and your copy editing skills. You may be asked to carry out such tasks as:
    • Correcting errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar and usage
    • Ensuring the accuracy of numerical material
    • Correcting or querying inconsistencies in logic, factual details and cross-references
    • Maintaining consistency in heads, tables and lists
    • Creating a style sheet
  • Reference books and tools—You will be asked to bring pens, pencils, an eraser, a calculator and rulers, and you will be allowed to bring a Canadian dictionary, Editing Canadian English and up to three more style guides

Stylistic Editing

  • Standards testedA1 to A12 (The Fundamentals of Editing) and C1 to C15 (Standards for Stylistic Editing) of Professional Editorial Standards (2009)
  • Test format—Invigilated test on hard copy, using standard editing markup
  • Time allowed—3 hours
  • Test description—Short-answer questions that require knowledge of the publishing process and of stylistic editing, and one passage that allows you to demonstrate your publishing knowledge and your stylistic editing skills. You may be asked to carry out such tasks as:
    • Improving sentence construction and word choice to convey meaning more effectively
    • Rewriting sentences, paragraphs and passages to resolve ambiguities and ensure logical connections
    • Eliminating wordiness
    • Preparing a memo to the assigning editor or author, commenting on the required edits
  • Reference books and tools—You will be asked to bring pens, pencils, an eraser, a calculator and rulers, and you will be allowed to bring a Canadian dictionary, Editing Canadian English and either two style guides and a thesaurus or three style guides

Structural Editing

  • Standards testedA1 to A12 (The Fundamentals of Editing) and B1 to B12 (Standards for Structural Editing) of Professional Editorial Standards (2009)
  • Test format—Invigilated test on hard copy, using standard editing markup
  • Time allowed—3 hours
  • Test description—Short-answer questions that require knowledge of the publishing process and of structural editing, and one passage that allows you to demonstrate your publishing knowledge and your structural editing skills. You may be asked to carry out such tasks as:
    • Reorganizing the passage
    • Using a table of contents and/or an outline to show the structural editing required by the text
    • Revising, cutting and/or expanding material to meet specific requirements
    • Preparing a memo to the assigning editor or author, commenting on the required edits
  • Reference books and tools—You will be asked to bring pens, pencils, an eraser, a calculator and rulers, and you will be allowed to bring a Canadian dictionary, Editing Canadian English and up to three more style guides
 

Test Formats

Historically, all of the certification tests have been strictly paper-based. While Editors Canada was developing and establishing the program, we did not have the resources required to administer computer-based tests securely and efficiently.

We recognize, however, that most editors work onscreen a good deal of the time, rather than strictly with pen and paper. We're therefore researching ways to provide electronic testing while maintaining the security and integrity of the certification process.

A Computer Testing Task Force was formed to explore these issues in the spring and summer of 2011. The task force's "recommendations" (PDF, 503 KB) were accepted that fall by the National Executive Council.

A pilot version of an electronic copy editing test was administered in November 2011. It revealed that we still have issues to resolve before we can offer the exams electronically. We're continuing this work.
Meanwhile, we're also improving our paper-based tests.

Our paper-based tests include questions about onscreen editing, but don't require candidates to perform tasks best accomplished with the help of a computer, such as search and replace or cut and paste.

This allows us to address the role of computers in the work lives of editors, while maintaining test security, operating efficiently, accommodating the needs of markers and providing a world-class certification program for editors.

 

Test Soundness

Validity and reliability are critical for any certification program.

For this reason, we have developed a rigorous process for creating, administering and marking all of our tests. It involves the following steps.

  1. Experienced editors are recruited to participate in the setting of test questions. They're required to know Professional Editorial Standards (2009) inside out and to have seen at least one certified test, either as candidates or as markers. Many test setters have teaching and assessment backgrounds. Test setters are required to sign confidentiality agreements.
  2. The co-chairs of the Certification Steering Committee choose which standards are to be tested on each exam, based on previous years' tests. They provide the test setters with research materials on pedagogically sound question design, and provide ongoing support during test setting. All members of the Certification Steering Committee are required to sign confidentiality agreements.
  3. The test setters begin by reviewing the Study Guides and previous tests to see how they've been designed. They then develop a two-part test and a detailed marking guide. Part A consists of a series of questions (fill in the blanks, short answers, true or false, multiple choice and matching) and Part B consists of a passage the candidate is to edit or proofread.
  4. The newly set test is reviewed by the test shepherd (a member of the Certification Steering Committee) to ensure that it's fair, covers the appropriate standards and is the appropriate length. The test shepherd then works with a professional designer to lay out the pages for the test and the marking guide. The designer is required to sign a confidentiality agreement.
  5. An experienced editor proofreads the test and the marking guide. The proofreader is required to sign a confidentiality agreement.
  6. The test is piloted by experienced editors. Pilot testers are required to sign confidentiality agreements and are identified on the test papers only by number.
  7. Experienced editors are recruited to mark the tests. If possible, we recruit markers who hold Editors Canada certifications. Markers are required to sign confidentiality agreements.
  8. Each marker marks all of the pilot tests.
  9. A conference call is held with all of the markers, the test shepherd, the test analyst (see point 11, below) and a Certification Steering Committee co-chair. There's an in-depth discussion about whether the questions are valid (i.e., test what they're meant to test) and reliable (i.e., produce stable and consistent results).
  10. The test shepherd modifies the questions and/or the marking guide on the basis of feedback from the pilot testers and the markers.
  11. An experienced test analyst reviews the marked pilot tests and makes additional suggestions for modification. The analyst is a senior editor who has been involved in the certification program and is aware of the issues surrounding test validity and reliability. The test analyst is required to sign a confidentiality agreement.
  12. The test shepherd works with the external designer to modify and finalize the test and the marking guide.
  13. The test is administered in an invigilated setting. Candidates are required to sign confidentiality agreements and are identified on the test papers only by number.
  14. Each test is marked by two markers. If one mark is a pass and the other is a fail, the test is sent to a third marker.
  15. The marking analyst reviews all of the marked tests to ensure that the marking is consistent and reliable.
  16. An Editors Canada staff member in the National Office cross-references the candidate numbers on the tests with the names of the test registrants.
  17. An external auditor (hired from an accounting firm) checks that the cross-referencing has been done correctly and that each candidate will receive the correct pass/fail letter.
  18. An Editors Canada staff member sends each registrant a letter indicating whether s/he has passed or failed the test.